Have no fear for I am back. Also I've just completed university and have no job to speak of yet so I should have some free time.

Thank you so much for everyone that has stuck with me through this story.

Chapter Twenty: Love

This was quite possibly the worst sectionals in the entire history of Glee Club. Not only was Finn MIA and they were forced to replace him with Jacob who eye stalked her wherever she went but they quickly found out that their set list had been leaked by Brittany. No one could fault the blonde because she truly didn't understand what she had done wrong and so Rachel was forced to direct her anger at the situation to something else, or someone else. Naturally she chose to show her resentment towards Puck but every time her eyes meet his she was flinch and quickly look away because he kept looking at her like a wounded puppy. They hadn't spoken since she declared her love for me and got no reason, he had tried calling her several times and even turned up at her house more than once but she had merely asked her dads to keep him away. She didn't know what to say to him then and she didn't know what to say no. Quinn kept trying to catch her eye as well, probably hoping to alleviate her guilt in one way or another since Finn wasn't here to beg redemption from.

Rachel let out a startled gasp as Finn made his way through the door, sheet music clutched in his hand and promises that they could make it through the competition and win if they put their hearts into it. It riled up the group enough to restore their confidence but when Rachel's eyes met Finn's she knew their hearts were too bruised and fragile right now to truly believe.

Finn approached her slowly, feeling guilty for the way he treated her, "Hey, you know this is all on you now, right?"

She blinked slowly and turned to Mercedes a frown on her face as the other girl smiled back in encouragement, "I thought you were taking the solo, you must have something else you can sing."

Mercedes nodded before reluctantly admitting, "I do but nothing that's going to be as good as what you'll sing."

"You're our star, Rachel." Finn reached for her hand and gave her assuring squeeze, leaning down as if he was about to say something for her only.

He never got the chance before he was tugged sharply away from her by a furious looking Puck who quickly stepped in-between them.

"Stay away from my girlfriend."

Finn snorted in disgust, "You mean like you stayed away from mine? I'll get right on that, buddy."

Some of Puck's anger deflated and Quinn let out a wet sob from the couches behind them as the group was reminded of the elephant in the room. No one had spoken about the revelations that came to in the choir room that day and if Rachel was honest she had no need to start hearing about them now.

"We don't have time for this right now. We have to focus on the competition, okay?"

Finn glared at Puck once again before smiling softly down at her, "Yeah, you're right. Me and you are gonna rock that duet."

"Dude, seriously. You're out of free passes here."

"Noah, stop it!" Rachel snapped, pushing him away from the taller boy as he took a threatening step forward.

He allowed himself to be pushed out of the room by the tiny brunette before he turned and captured her hips, "We're not broken up, Rachel."

She sighed sadly in response, "I think we are, better now before either of us gets hurt again."

"You're kidding? Look, we're not breaking up, not after all this okay, not after you –"His voice caught and he found himself unable to utter the words that she had.

"After I told you I loved you? I can't just forget that I said it and you didn't even say anything back."

"Rachel –"

She cut him off before he could plead his case, "I wasn't looking for you to say it back just because I did but you didn't even acknowledge it, Noah. You just stood there."

He leaned down letting his forehead drop to hers as he apologised, "I am so sorry. I wanted to say something but I didn't know how and then Quinn…"

"Please don't talk about Quinn right now." She begged, thankful when the intercom crackled and announced that McKinley High was due on stage.

"We're over, Noah."

For the first time in her performing career Rachel found herself nervous as she paced outside the curtains at the entrance, the curtains that led to the stairs which would lead her to the stage. Her stage. This was what she was born to do and yet she found herself completely and utterly terrified. It didn't help that her confidence was totally shot, the past few days and her conversation with Puck was fresh in her mind and it was doing little to let her focus on the competition. For once she had friends that were counting on her leading them to victory and fought her composure to stop herself from crumbling under the pressure.

She tensed as she felt eyes on her back and as she turned she repressed a groan of aggravation at the tall, muscular figure standing in the shadows, the figure that she easily identified as Puck.

"What are you doing here? Get back to your place backstage."

He stepped forward quickly and grasped her hands tightly in his own, "I just have to tell you something."

She frowned and nodded to their surroundings, "Right now? I'm about to perform."

He nodded quickly taking a deep breath before letting it out slowly and Rachel became increasingly worried as he struggled to form any kind of words. Panicking she let go of one of his hands and found herself stroking his chest in a soothing manner before she realised what she was doing. His now free hand came up to press her own tightly against his heart as he leaned into her. His lips crashed against hers, pressing tightly until she caved into the familiarity of his kiss and began to respond. His other hand left hers and gripped her hip tugging her tightly against his body as she sighed into his mouth one last time before they detached.

"I love you."

She stared back at him with wide unblinking eyes, her lips puffy and red from his kiss, "What?"

He smirked at her dishevelled form before repeating himself, "I love you. I think I have for a while and that scares the shit out of me, Rachel. I've never cared about a girl outside my mom and sister never mind loving a neurotic little freak like you. "

"Insulting me is not going to do you any favours, Noah."

"No its not and I like that. I like that you challenge me and call me on my bullshit. I like your stupid ass animal sweaters and your hot little skirts. I love how you feel when I'm inside you or when you press yourself against me when you're sleeping. I love that you care about all those idiots back there even though they treat you like crap sometimes. Hell, I even like the selfish side of you, the side that's not afraid to just take what you want because that's the way I am. I take what I want and I want you, Rachel."

"Noah, I don't know what to say."

"You don't need to say anything because you're gonna go out there and you're gonna sit your ass off and we're going to give that audience the best performance of the night. So when we come off stage I'm gonna be right there beside you, no Quinn, no Finn, no bullshit. Just you and me, babe."

Rachel held back her tears as he pressed one last kiss to her lips before nudging her in the direction of the curtains and whispered good luck before he disappeared once again into the shadows backstage. Taking a deep breath she pressed her fingers to her lips and a smile broke out on her face as her other hand gripped the curtain tightly and pull it open.


I'm thinking of finishing the story off here, it basically concludes season one and I think this is a nice place to leave it if I ever wanted to come back and make a sequel out of it. What do you guys think?